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AUTO REVIEW: 2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS AWD: A Return of An Old Favorite

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Never before has Chevy designed a crossover that was so expressive. In fact, it seemed out of step from its typical design theme. Other than the Corvette and the Impala, it has been a while since the word “stylish” has been so associated with a brand known for building reliable family-oriented cars, trucks and SUVs.

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By Jeff Fortson of JeffCars.com

Highlight: The vehicle is available with adjustable sliding rear seats.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP$50,765 (Base Model: $29,995)

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features: ABS; airbags; traction control system; a back-up camera; LED daytime running lights; a stability control system; a tire pressure monitoring system; and a tire inflator kit

Standard Equipment (LS): 18-inch wheels; a 9-speed transmission; dual zone automatic ventilation system; a leather wrapped steering wheel; a leather shift knob; a built-in Wi-Fi system; cloth seats; manually-adjustable front seats; maanual tilt/telescopic steering wheel; a lockable electronic glovebox

Standard Equipment (RS): 20-inch wheels; 3.6-liter, 6-cylinder engine; 305-horsepower; AWD; an automatic heated steering wheel; heated front seats; an automatic rearview mirror; a power programmable liftgate; a keyless entry system; a keyless ignition starter system; a rear parking assist system; a rear cross-traffic alert system; a lane change blind zone alert system; black roof rails; a remote vehicle start system; leather seats; and SiriusXM

Options On Test Vehicle: 21-inch gloss wheels; memory setting; a rear camera mirror; a safety alert system; a premium BOSE audio system; wireless charging; heated rear seats; a radar activated cruise control system; ventilated front seats; a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel; automatic headlights; a forward collision alert system; a forward automatic braking system; a lane departure warning system; a front pedestrian braking system; 360-degree camera; and a panoramic power sunroof

Other Trim Levels: L; LT; Premium

Standard Audio on Test Vehicle: a 6-speaker AM/FM radio

Apple CarPlay & Android: Yes

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Yes

Android/Apple CarPlay: Yes

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower:2.5-liter turbo, 4-cylinder/193-hp

Towing: 1,500 lbs

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage:25-city/30-hwy

What’s New:While the name may have been revived, this is not the Blazer we last remembered, when the name died with the production of the vehicle in 2005. Chevy’s new cutting-edge crossover is all new both inside and out. As opposed to being based on a truck platform, this time around the midsize vehicle is based on a car platform.

Why: What’s not to like about GM’s non-soccer mom-styled crossover! It’s stylish. It’s available in an array of trims. Depending upon the trim, an all-wheel drive configuration is available.

It’s the newest addition to the competitive crossover craze, where it seems automakers have resorted to making many of these vehicles in this segment look like modern day station wagons on steroids.

Fortunately, that is not the case with the revived Blazer. GM’s design team differentiated this Chevy from the entry-level Trax, the popular but conservatively styled Equinox and the truck-like Traverse.

The Blazer looks like it was created by one of Chevy’s Japanese competitors. Time and time again those are the words that spewed out of the mouths from many who came in contact with the vehicle. This vehicle didn’t look like it was capable of wearing Chevy’s signature bowtie.

Never before has Chevy designed a crossover that was so expressive. In fact, it seemed out of step from its typical design theme. Other than the Corvette and the Impala, it has been a while since the word “stylish” has been so associated with a brand known for building reliable family-oriented cars, trucks and SUVs.

With consumers no longer placing coupes and sedans at the top of their shopping list and automakers revamping their portfolio, Chevy has given its customers a reason to strongly consider this athletically muscular vehicle.

The five-passenger vehicle is roomy and accommodating. There’s even ample cargo room. The all-new Blazer is available with all of the latest high-tech features and luxury amenities.

Some of those features include a much welcome panoramic sunroof, a color rotary dial fan speed knobs, a driver’s safety seat, a radar-activated cruise control system, a push-button ignition starter, 21-inch blacked-out wheels, heated rear seats, six USB ports, a wireless smartphone charger and a choice of two powertrains. Overall, we found a well-executed color-coordinated interior theme that was choreographed with the gauges and infotainment center.

By the way, rumor has it that the engineering team has future plans to stuff a third row in this vehicle.

But: Honestly, besides the front center armrest that rattled periodically, the audio system wasn’t quite up to the crystal-clear concert sound we’ve experienced in a number of the Blazer’s competitors. We wouldn’t mind if the audio engineering team works with the supplier of the sound system to replicate the perfect pitch and balance, creating a world-class sound experience. We know they’re capable of such, since this is definitely the most cutting-edge design of any of the Detroit automakers.

Verdict: GM has a winner on its hands with the all-new Blazer. In the RS we reviewed, there was nothing lacking. In our opinion, the Blazer and the Nissan Murano are two of the most stylish mainstream crossovers available.

Overall the fit and finish, with the extra storage built into the front doors, adds to the small touches that makes this a worthy pick on our list. Moreover, the ride and handling capabilities exceeded our expectations. In fact, we found the RS trim to be quite engaging.

Competition: Ford Edge; Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and Nissan Murano

Near Competitor: Jeep Grand Cherokee

About Jeff Fortson: He is the host of SiriusXM Channel 141 Auto Trends with JeffCars.com. It’s a weekly multicultural automotive show, which includes in-depth conversations with today’s influencers and pioneers. For show times and to price a new vehicle, cruise over to JeffCars.com.

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U.S. Business Leaders Step Up to Fight Inequities in the South

Even as the pandemic has laid bare societal inequities that have long eroded the foundation of our democracy, political leaders in Washington and in state capitols are mired in a level of rancor and partisanship not seen since the ideological struggles over the Vietnam War. 

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Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr./ NNPA Newswire

Even as the pandemic has laid bare societal inequities that have long eroded the foundation of our democracy, political leaders in Washington and in state capitols are mired in a level of rancor and partisanship not seen since the ideological struggles over the Vietnam War. 

This toxic atmosphere has left them incapable of addressing pressing, yet ingrained issues like the racial wealth gap, the digital divide, and vast inequalities in everything from health care to home ownership.

With COVID-19 still an omnipresent concern and the country’s recovery still very much in jeopardy, individuals, families, and communities – particularly communities of color throughout the South – are struggling to deal with issues that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

From impediments to wealth creation opportunities and a dearth of education and workforce development to a lack of access to reliable broadband, substandard housing, and inadequate political representation, communities of color have suffered an outsized toll during the ongoing public health crisis.

Yet political leaders can’t even agree on basic facts that would allow the nation to implement a coherent national strategy for combatting a pandemic that appears to be entering a new wave amid the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant that is currently ravaging parts of the South.

Against that disillusioning backdrop, there is at least some reason for hope. Moving to fill the vacuum created by the inaction of our political class, a group of business leaders in the technology and investment sectors have embarked on a far-reaching – and perhaps unprecedented – campaign to address the social inequities and systemic racism that has historically plagued our country’s southern communities.

Known as the Southern Communities Initiative (SCI), the campaign was founded by financial technology company PayPal, the investment firm Vista Equity Partners (Vista), and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

SCI was formed to work with local elected officials and advocacy groups to tackle the ubiquitous problems of structural racism and inequalities facing communities of color in six communities throughout the South. SCI notes that these areas – Atlanta, Ga., Birmingham, Ala., Charlotte, N.C., Houston, Texas, Memphis, Tenn., and New Orleans, La., – were chosen in part because they are home to around 50% of the country’s Black population and are where some of the greatest disparities exist.

SCI is aiming to drive long-term change, as outlined by PayPal CEO Dan Schulman, Vista CEO Robert F. Smith and BCG CEO Rich Lesser. 

In Atlanta, for example, SCI is working to bridge the wealth gap that exists among the region’s African-American residents. While there is a strong Black business community in the city, and high levels of Black educational achievement thanks to the regional presence of several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and the voice of the Black press, there is still an extremely low level of Black entrepreneurship and business ownership with only 6% of employer firms being Black-owned.

To remedy this disparity, SCI is working with the Southern Economic Advancement Project to create entrepreneurship hubs and accelerator programs to increase the number of minority-owned businesses. The corporations behind SCI are also using their networks to help other companies work with minority-owned supply companies.

In Alabama, SCI is seeking to bridge the massive digital divide in an urban area where 450,000 households are without connection to the internet. In order to tackle the crisis, SCI is leveraging relationships with local schools and libraries to distribute laptops and service vouchers. Another tact SCI is taking is to partner with the owners of multi-unit buildings in low-income neighborhoods to install free public Wi-Fi for residents.

The lack of access to capital is another reason Black communities throughout the South have been traditionally underbanked. In Memphis, where 47% of Black households are underbanked, SCI is partnering with Grameen America to cover the $2 million per year per branch start-up cost to build brick-and-mortar banks in minority communities.

This alone will provide 20,000 women access to more than $250 million per year in financing.

Beyond these initiatives, SCI is partnering with groups like the Greater Houston Partnership and the Urban League of Louisiana to provide in-kind support to improve job outcomes for minority college students, expand access to home financing through partnerships with community development financial institutions, and harness the power of technology to expand health care access in underserved urban and rural neighborhoods.

The issues facing these communities throughout the South are not new nor will they be fixed overnight.

Fortunately, SCI is taking a long-term approach that is focused on getting to the root of structural racism in the United States and creating a more just and equitable country for every American.

A once-in-a-century pandemic and a social justice movement not seen since the 1960s were not enough to break the malaise and rancorous partisanship in Washington. Fortunately, corporate leaders are stepping up and partnering with local advocates and non-profit groups to fix the problem of systemic injustice in the U.S.

We, therefore, salute and welcome the transformative commitments of the Southern Communities Initiative (SCI). There is no time to delay, because as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so accurately said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

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NNPA – Black Press w/ Hendriks Video Interview

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Black Woman to Lead United States Park Police

 Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

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Pamela A. Smith

Pamela A. Smith, a 23-year veteran of the United States Park Police, will lead the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.

Smith, who became the first African American woman to lead the 230-year-old agency, immediately remarked that she would establish a body-worn camera program for USPP within 90 days.

The program will initially begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year, Smith said.

“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers, which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days,” Smith offered in a statement.

 “This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and graduated from the FBI National Academy. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

During her law enforcement career, the proud Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sister has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler, and academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

 According to a news release, Smith also served as executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco Field Office, commander of the New York Field Office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division.

Smith was the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its Major.

At the USPP, she will lead a 560-member workforce that protects the public, parks, and the nation’s most iconic landmarks in Wash., D.C., New York City, and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

“Chief Smith’s commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate make her the right person to lead the U.S. Park Police at this pivotal moment in our country,” Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the NPS director, noted in a statement.

 “Over the coming months, the leadership of the National Park Service will explore opportunities with Chief Smith designed to strengthen our organization’s commitment to transparency. Her personal and professional experience make her acutely aware of and ready to meet the challenges and responsibilities that face U.S. Park Police and law enforcement agencies across the nation.”

 Jennifer Flynn, the associate director for Visitor Resource Protection at the National Park Service added that she’s looking forward to Smith’s leadership.

“Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

 “As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people. Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization,” Flynn said.

Smith declared that she would lead by example and expects all officers to display integrity.

 “I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement, and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as chief of police,” Chief Smith declared. “Today’s officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity.”  

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